‘It’s a homecoming’

By Keith Strange

July 10, 2014

The Blackmon Ampitheatre will come alive Friday as friends, family and fellow musicians gather to celebrate the legacy of renowned Mount Airy musician Jimmy Lowry.

And perhaps help support a college-bound student or two in the process.

The seventh installment of the Jimmy Lowry Tribute Concert is set to get under way at 7:30 p.m., and promises to provide a full evening of music and entertainment for all music lovers.

Once again this year, Beach Music Hall of Fame Artist and Mount Airy native Steve Jarrell of the Sons of the Beach will be on hand to perform. Other guests include John Rees, Mount Airy native and former Donna Fargo band member. Rees has also performed with numerous Nashville, Tennessee recording artists.

Blues great Melva Houston is also slated to perform during the tribute concert.

Performers are expected to be joined on stage by many other friends of Lowry, donating their time and talent as musicians to benefit regional students of the arts through the annual scholarship benefit.

Lowry was a career musician from Mount Airy who was a member of The King Bees and The O’Kaysions (known for the hit “I’m a Girl Watcher”). He appeared with The O’Kaysions on the ABC-TV show “American Bandstand” in the early 1970s, according to previous reports and he performed with Fargo and Steve Jarrell and the Sons of the Beach.

However, that ended when the veteran musician died unexpectedly in 2007 at age 62.

After his death, those who had been close to Lowry wanted to keep his memory alive in a way that would give something back to a profession that meant so much to him.

That led to the annual tribute concert from which the proceeds provide financial support to college-bound students of the arts.

“My dad was really big on continued education,” said Jennie Lowry Caudill. “While he never really used it, he had a degree in music himself and was a lifelong learner. It was a big deal for him to do something to allow students the ability to pursue their talents.”

While the event is a tribute to her father, Caudill said the concert is something like a homecoming for the performers.

“It’s a celebration and an extremely fun event for us,” she said. “This is a chance for us to get to see people that we don’t see any other time of the year.

“My dad had so much fun performing and entertaining people,” Caudill added. “He loved music and loved to share it with others. This is a way to honor that memory and that legacy.”

Proceeds from the concert will help support the Jimmy Lowry Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships through the Surry Arts Council for students who excel in music, drama or visual arts.

The 2014 Jimmy Lowry Scholars are John Atkins and Meagan Soetermans. The scholarship also help send William Easter, Lucas McMillian and Kelsey Carlisle to music camp.

Tickets to the concert are $10 or a Surry Arts Council season pass.

For more information, call the Surry Arts Council at 336-786-7998.

Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.